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MBNMS Helps Central California Emergency Hyperbaric Chamber Get Back On–Line

The Pacific Grove Hyperbaric Chamber closed in June 2012 due to funding, insurance, and repair issues, creating a significant safety issue for central California SCUBA divers.

"Emergency multi-lock hyperbaric chambers are few and far between in central California, providing a limited choice of treatment options for divers suffering from acute decompression injuries" said Paul Michel, superintendent for Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary (MBNMS). "We and our partners conduct dive operations routinely, and the PG chamber is the only multi-place emergency chamber for treating diving accidents between Fairfield and Santa Catalina Island." Multi-place chambers contain an airlock that allows medical personnel and equipment to pass in and out of the pressurized treatment chamber and are critical for treating an unconscious or injured patient with acute hyperbaric trauma. There are only three such chambers in coastal California.

Last March, the marine sanctuary hosted a meeting of interested parties and collaborated with chamber volunteers, the City of Pacific Grove, regional marine science and education partners, the California Marine Sanctuary Foundation, MBNMS advisory council members, and several offices of the National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) to help reopen the facility. MBNMS arranged for two specialized technicians from the NOAA Dive Center in Seattle to assist chamber operators in completing repairs and maintenance on the chamber – work that was essential to its return to service on August 3, 2013.

image of newly re-opened Pacific Grove hyperbaric chamber

All divers should have a written dive accident management plan on hand that includes information about emergency response and treatment of hyperbaric injuries. The presence of a multi-lock emergency hyperbaric chamber nearby and available 24 hours a day is a tremendous safety enhancement. The Pacific Grove Hyperbaric Chamber exists due to the devotion of a group of steadfast volunteers and support from the City of Pacific Grove, providing an important service to all central California divers. The sanctuary commends them and the members of the diving community who have pledged annual financial support for the chamber.

On the Web:
MBNMS Dive Team:
PG Hyperbaric Chamber:
URL:    Reviewed: November 20, 2017
Web Site Owner: National Ocean Service

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